Almost No Blacks Among the Top Scorers on the SAT

Under the SAT scoring system, most non-minority students hoping to qualify for admission to any of the nation’s 25 highest-ranked universities and 25 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges need to score at least 700 on each portion of the SAT. Yet only a minute percentage of black test takers score at this level.

In 2006, 150,643 African Americans took the SAT test. They made up 10.3 percent of all SAT test takers. But only 976 African-American college-bound students scored 700 or above on the math SAT and only 1,117 scored at least 700 on the verbal SAT. Nationally, more than 95,000 students of all races scored 700 or above on the math SAT and nearly 69,000 students scored 700 or above on the verbal SAT. Thus, in this top-scoring category of all SAT test takers, blacks made up only 1 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the math test and only 1.6 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the verbal SAT.

In a race-neutral competition for the approximately 50,000 places for first-year students at the nation’s 25 top-ranked universities, high-scoring blacks would be buried by a huge mountain of high-scoring non-black students. Today, under prevailing affirmative action admissions policies, there are about 3,000 black first-year students matriculating at these 25 high-ranking universities, about 6 percent of all first-year students at these institutions. But if these schools operated under a strict race-neutral admissions policy where SAT scores were the most important qualifying yardstick, these universities could fill their freshman classes almost exclusively with students who score at the very top of the SAT scoring scale. As shown previously, black students make up at best between 1 and 2 percent of these high-scoring groups.